Pinoy tenants, advocates fight evictions in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO – The rain did not stop these Filipino tenants and their advocates from voicing their concerns Tuesday morning.

They gathered outside the Superior Court of San Francisco to tell Evan Matteo of Big Trees Properties that he is wrong for evicting three units of long-term tenants of the City, all of whom are Filipino.

Tuesday morning’s demonstration was a continuation of a previous protest that was in support of these residents, who say they were only served with a three-day notice to vacate their homes three weeks after Big Tree Properties purchased the building in mid-March.

“I’m hoping he is getting the message,” said Angelica Cabande of the South of Market Community Action Network (SOMCAN). “Last week we did a phone barrage to his cell phone and today we are doing an action. If he continues on with these hearings and evictions we will continue our rallies and we will not stop until he really hears us and sees that this is not ok for any landlord to do to any tenants.”

These activists say that this is another example of the worsening situation in San Francisco where long-term residents are losing their homes to speculators.

“He definitely wants to remove all these tenants because they’ve been long time tenants there,” said Cabande. “They’ve been paying less than $1100 a month for rent that has two to three bedrooms. These are rent-controlled units and we really want to make sure this is preserved in San Francisco.”

An average one bedroom luxury apartment in San Francisco would cost these tenants at least $3,000 a month.

Rosendo Anicete was one of the evicted tenants and chose to settle with Matteo because he says fighting it out was taking a toll on his health.

But he joins the activists because he says that Filipinos must continue to fight for tenant rights.

“Since we came to America this is the first part of America where we ever stepped on so we don’t want to step out of it anymore,” said Anicete. “This is it for us.”

“They want to stay there,” said Cabande. “Their children grew up in this unit. They want to retire there.”

All the Filipino families may lose their home when the residents of the final unit will meet with Matteo and his lawyer tomorrow for mediations.

Matteo was present in the courthouse but he and his lawyer declined to make a comment at this time.

Follow Rommel Conclara on Twitter @rommelconclara for more information.

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